Cagliari Bonaria Cemetery

Historic part of Cagliari Bonaria cemetery in early morning July watering of graves and grass

The historic part of the Cagliari Bonaria cemetery

The Cagliari Bonaria Cemetery is found against the hill of Bonaria (Buenaire, “buona aria”, good air). The hill of limestone with its many burial caves was a necropolis during Punic-Roman and early Christian times. Later, in Cagliari one was buried in churches or in areas immediately adjacent, causing significant problems with hygiene, in particular during epidemic cholera. Following the one of 1816, the army Captain Engineer Luigi Damiano designed the Bonaria Cemetery, which was inaugurated on January 1, 1829 and closed for new applicants after 1968. The cemetery is divided into squares containing graves of various periods and growing ever younger, moving up the Bonaria hill. One encounters chapels, tombs, vaults, sarcophagi for individuals, families and even fraternities. These are decorated with bronze and marble statues of various qualities and degree of preservation. The size of the memorials is proportional to the vanity of the deceased inside. Apparently, you can’t do without one or two stone angels and if you can afford it, better also get that life-size imitation personal Jesus.

The cemetery offers a lot of subjects for photography and that is one of the reasons I like to go over there and will return more often. Not only because I have now a license to kill from the community of Cagliari, but also because I still need to capture that typical graveyard day with drizzling rain, some fog or at least fading grey winter light. Until now it has been perversely sunny.

The other reason for a visit is the calmness of the place. At least during the week and not taking into account the occasional visitor coming from far with an interesting reason and the colony of seagulls that tend to stay there during July, attacking when their youngest ones have left the nests but still can only run and not yet fly. It requires some imitation skill to reproduce that typical nhack, nhack, nhack sound when their talking, but then you can at least tell them not to worry, or to shut up and else f*ck off. At the end of July they are gone so you have only to deal with the crows which at least know how to behave at a cemetery. Somehow they sound more relaxed and rather relieved, maybe because their noisy neighbours finally left.

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